'I once learnt something in a way one does not often get a lesson. I felt at that time very weary, and very sad, and very heavy at heart; and I began to doubt in my own mind whether I really enjoyed the things which I preached to others. It seemed to be a dreadful thing for me to be only a waiter, and not a guest, at the gospel feast. I went to a certain country town, and on the Sabbath day entered a Methodist Chapel. The man who conducted the service was an engineer; he read the Scriptures, and prayed, and preached. The tears flowed freely from my eyes; I was moved to the deepest emotion by every sentence of the sermon, and I felt all my difficulty removed, for the gospel, I saw, was very dear to me, and had wonderful effect upon my own heart. I went to the preacher, and said, "I thank you very much for that sermon." He asked me who I was, and when I told him, he looked as red as possible, and he said, "Why, it was one of your sermons that I preached this morning!" "Yes," I said, "I know it was; but that was the very message that I wanted to hear, because I then saw that I did enjoy the very Word I myself preached." It was happily so arranged in the good providence of God. Had it been his own sermon, it would not have answered the purpose nearly so well as when it turned out to be one of mine.'There's a lot to think about in this, but I just focus on one facet: Spurgeon admitting his own falling-short, sometimes, of the joy he should have in Christ.
I very much empathize with his statement, and have often felt exactly the same — though I've not put it as well. I've preached Christ's riches to the elect often and with absolute conviction... for my hearers. But my own feeling of those truths, for myself, hasn't been nearly as exultant as it should be.
This is one of the reason, or really two of the reasons, why Spurgeon remains so broadly useful. Luther said that a good theologian is made by oratio, meditatio, and tentatio — prayer, meditation, and temptation. Spurgeon knew all three. He hadn't the leisure of laboratory Christianity. He actually had to live it out. He knew deep, dark depression, and had to battle his way out by God's promises. He never sold a pistol he hadn't fired first.
And, secondly, he admitted it. I think of one preacher, and I simply imagine him doing such. When this worthy brother gives illustrations at all, they're always about others' follies and failures and sins. He evidently has none... or none that he cares to mention.
His preaching doesn't connect with me. Informs, yes; encourages, moves, blesses, no. When I get all perfect and everything, I'll give it another go.